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‘Faith Dreamside #4:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Issue #4 follows our hero Faith Dreamside into the Deadside, a nightmare landscape ruled by the malevolent Belu.  Belu has captured Faith’s ally and friend, Monica Jim, and plans to leverage Monica to enable his own power and conquer additional realms.

The thing that initially impressed me about this this book is the very well-crafted art.  I can only describe MJ Kim’s illustrations as similar to Terry Moore but as seen through an anime lens.  Kim’s characters are expressively and uniquely drawn with excellent energy that helps them to jump off the page.  Her camera angles are constantly changing with good effect.  They flow between long shot and punchy force perspective, and this gives each page a dynamic that supports the story development and keeps the reader’s eye engaged.  Kim presents a mastery of various scenes that range from the mundane to the climactic. With visual confidence and with detailed draftsmanship, she renders exciting, well-drawn characters and backgrounds that I really enjoyed.  In addition, the panel work in this issue is excellent and is used to guide the reader’s eye to key elements of the page and also works to frame definitive moments.  I find a lot of books these days either get sloppy with floating panels or just overuse panels on a page and simply wreck the visual.  That is not the case with this book.  

Supporting the art is excellent color work by Jordie Bellaire.  Jordie reinforces Kim’s line work with intelligent use of monochromatic tones to reinforce the eerie vibe of the Deadside.  She also uses color effectively to punch up the dramatic moments of the story and delivers a brilliantly hued climax between Belu, Monica, and Faith.  I would like to keep an eye on Jordie’s work going forward; she really maximized the potential of her medium with bold, confident color choices that multiplied the story and line work.  In addition, Dave Sharpe’s lettering is executed cleanly, and his use of fonts (sometimes in color) for different characters again only serves to create another visual dimension that enhances the reader’s experience.  The word bubbles themselves also blend in beautifully with the unique panel work.

Visually, I was really impressed with this book and look forward to seeing more from this team.  I am guessing they spent a lot of time in the early stages of laying out these pages to talk through placement of word bubbles, key moments, panels, etc. to creates such a well-crafted, visually compelling book.

With regards to the story, the narrative moves very quickly, and the writing has some very effective moments that I can only refer to as storytelling “jump scares.”  The dialogue is excellent and all contextually relevant and serves to complete the narrative.  Houser’s storytelling is crisp and to the point, and her regard for her main character permeates the issue.  It’s hard for the reader not to really feel for and like Faith Dreamside.  Also, hats off to Houser for breaking the superheroine mold with a character that defies archetype.  My only criticism is that some of the character development needed a little more attention.  I think the best villians are the ones that are tangibly motivated.  So, bad guys that are bad for the sake of being bad are less interesting than bad guys that became bad for good reason.  In the case of Belu, the main protagonist of the issue, he was born, he was a jerk - cut to the conflict.  I would like to have seen a little more backstory as to what motivates him.


Summary:
I recommend this comic book.  I have high regard for the artwork and craftsmanship of the book.  I love the main character, Faith Dreamside.  I enjoyed the pace and completeness of the story from a plot perspective.  The only reason I don’t give it a 5 out of 5 is that I felt some of the characters could be fleshed out a little bit more to give the reader a better connection to them.

Overview:  4 out of 5 Stars

Creative Team:  Jody Houser (writer), MJ Kim (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Marguerite Sauvage (cover artist)
Publisher: Valiant
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